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Southeast Missouri town hopes TV show boosts tourism

Monday, March 3, 2014 | 2:14 p.m. CST; updated 11:08 p.m. CST, Monday, March 3, 2014

ST. LOUIS — A struggling southeast Missouri town that once served as a summer getaway for wealthy St. Louis residents hopes its role in a new network TV show comes with an economic boost.

The ABC series "Resurrection" is set in Arcadia, a small town where the dead return to life. No scenes from the show, which debuts Sunday, were filmed in Missouri, and the book on which the series is based was set in East Arcadia, N.C.

But that didn't stop members of the River Valley Region Association from creating a grass-roots lobbying effort, "Resurrection Arcadia," that convinced the network to hold a local premiere screening Thursday as part of efforts to promote Arcadia Valley tourism, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

"Tourism could be a big answer to our problems," said Bob Lourwood, mayor of Ironton, the largest of the three towns that cluster together to make up the Arcadia Valley. "We say the Arcadia Valley is the best-kept secret in Missouri, and if it's a secret in Missouri, people in the rest of the country certainly don't know about it."

The region thrived in the 19th century thanks to deep deposits of iron and lead, with prosperous St. Louis residents traveling the 90 miles south on the Iron Mountain Railway to their country homes. Those resources eventually ran out, and the 2005 collapse of Ameren's Taum Sauk reservoir also hurt the local economy because Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park closed. The park has since been rebuilt.

ABC won't be sending actors Omar Epps, Frances Fisher or any of its other stars to walk the red at the Arcadia Academy, the town's most historic building. But the network's marketing department is paying to cater the event and providing posters and gift baskets — even though filming actually took place outside Atlanta.

Business owner Darwin Rouse is restoring the academy, which was built in 1847 as a college and served as a Union hospital during the Civil War. Ursuline Catholic sisters bought it in 1877 and ran it for 100 years; many are buried on the grounds.

"This area was vibrant for years," Rouse said. "We need new people coming in, private investors coming in. Getting information about us out is our biggest challenge. The TV show could be a quick shot of attention."

Series creator Aaron Zelman, who adapted "Resurrection" from the book "The Returned," by Jason Mott, said he decided early on that it needed to be set in the heart of the country.

"I was interested in the idea of a border state, a place with a long history of not trusting outsiders," he told the newspaper. "There's a line in the pilot about Arcadia being a border town in a border state, kicked around by both sides, that sets up this point."

TV tourism has boosted other towns, including Conyers, Ga., where AMC shoots "The Walking Dead," and Albuquerque, N.M., where "Breaking Bad" was filmed.


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